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August 09, 1980 - Image 4

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1980-08-09

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Page 4-Saturday, August 9, 1980-The Michigan Daily


The pain of
free speech
SOMETIMES - no, make that often - freedom
of speech hurts. Although many may not like
it, the privilege to speak freely must be granted to
all - including neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klansmen, and
pro-Khomeini Iranians.
The pain is obvious. The American Civil Liber-
ties Union - which last year defended the rights of
Nazis to march through predominately Jewish
qknkie_ IMinnis .- suffered dr tin d iP in

7irz& M FFWT7IC&I.&OEST(OJS Ik)- K C4 ITDtaiA MM ~ l trn o b-
-U ('t WO.) aV VI 6X~f MAF2R143C y FEAR of f i OF IffJQQc~IIG
TRAV, L(fl- r URAA I~~ThCCW ',A2E~ c T EV- ~ V~ioC6 OF M IM W C 1v. D65F.
i to mobiize blacks


17AV G, ra c c -n NEW YORK - When the
donations. Supreme Court gave its blessing By Betty Baye
The people of Greensboro, North Carolina suf- to cutting off federal funds for use
fered through a shootout between members of the in Medicaid abortions, pro- and Sandy Close
Communist Workers Party and the Nazis and abortion forces raised the
familiar spectre of poor black
Kansmen. women being forced to visit back blacks to do something for them-
And much of America suffered as 171 Iranians, alley abortion sharks or bear un- selves, says Courtney Brown, a
arrested at a pro-Khomeini demonstration in wanted children. But the voices professor of social work at New
Washington, D.C., were released last week under expressing outrage belonged York's Hunter College. "We have
what many consider spurious circustances largely to white women. Unlike allowed a whole intellectual
he reancosersheurinsrsu spnced o the days and weeks surrounding' dialogue to go on with no sub-
The release of the Iranians - suspected "of the Bakke affirmative action stance for ourselves. The
violating immigration laws - and the demon- decision, there was no massive: Supreme Court's decision was a
strations this week by supporters of those arrested organizing in black communities reflection of their social point of
Iranians, are particularly galling to Americans at around the issue of abortion. view. This is an opportunity for,
this time. The precarious hostagesituation may t "We have not had one request blacks to open up a whole new
thistim. Te pecaiou hosage, Stuai~nmay for support from a group in the dialogue based on the real black
well have motivated the release of the Iranians black community working on the experience."
before complete information about their identities issue of abortion," says Linda By far the most powerful con-
could be obtained. Powell, staff member of New cern produced by this experien-
But precisely because racial intolerance seems York's North Star Fund, a com- ce-reflected in interview after
to b brwingin he cunty one aainand munity-oriented foundation in interview-is the sheer fact that
to be brewing in the country once again, and New York. "The people who have there are simply fewer black men
because 52 Americans are still held captive in Iran, been active on it for years who around, let alone men with stable
we must today, more than ever, fight the angry im- are mostly white have been the lives.
pulses churning within us. ones asking for money." "You look around in the com-
The Nazis, the Klansmen, and the Iranians have WH'Y THE silence-especially munity today," says Mae
since black women, as documen- Jackson, a black playwright and
a right to speak freely and to march and demon- ted by pro-choice groups, account counselor at Brooklyn's Family
strate peacefully. But, as has been stated many for a substantial proportion of the Court, "and there are only
times before, we have a right not to listen. 250,000-300,000 Medicaid abor- women and children-no men.
tions performed annually, and Yet we grew up assuming we
teenage pregnancies among would get married and have
blacks have reached what exper- children. And none of us thought
ts calla crisis stage? of ourselves without a black
There are no studies to explain man."
why blacks are willing to speak IT'S NO secret, Jackson points
out for affirmative action and out, that "there is an element of
welfare rights but not abortion. black male chauvinism which
But interviews with a broad spec- :makes it difficult for some black
trum of people, including single women to even raise issues.like
baick mothers, suggest a variety abortion. With millions more
--of reasons for what appears to be black women than men in the
a deep psychological resistance black population, it's tough to
to confronting abortion as a convince black women that they
political or moral issue. should threaten existing relation-
Not the least of these is the ap- ships or jeopardize new ones by
parent inability of pro-choice standing on feminist principles of
groups to interest and recruit equality or publicly supporting'
black women. For many segmen- abortion."
ts of the black community, abor- Then too, there is the deep
tion, in fact, is viewed as "a white seated but often unspoken black
woman's issue" and as such not fear that abortion is a tool for cut-
- warranting any serious attention. ting down the black
But blacks who point this out are population-at the worst, for race
also critical of their own com- genocide. Even though most
munity organizations for' failing white Americans would scoff at
to deal .with abortion in a way the ides of an organized plan to.
that relates directly to its values kill off blacks, "it's the common
and experiences, perception that there is such a
THE SUPREME Court's policy that matters," says a mid-
- decision upholding the Hyde die class black woman who grew
Amendment should galvanize up in a south Chicago ghetto.

"You've got to wonder when you
can get a vasectomy or any cor-
ner andbirth control all arounld,
but to get help for a serious
illness, you have to go all the way
across town."
"Genocide has been discussed
too often in the black community
for us not to relate it to the abor-
tion issue," adds Jackson, "even
when we are considering abortion
for ourselves."
QUEMANI, chairperson of the
women's committee of the Black
United Front, a network of
grassroots organizations in New
York, agrees. While the issue of
abortion has been discussed
among Front members, she
says, "we have never done it in a
public forum. It is a complex
issue. And half ofsthe commit-
tee-myself included-believes it
is an act of genocide."
For many black women, such
anxieties are intensified by the
feeling that black men, in par-
ticular, are disappearing.
Pamela Douglas, a black
television and screen writer and
hournalist in Los Angeles, says
black women she has interviewed
across the country privately fear
that black men may be wiped
out-through street crime,
joblessness, drugs, and un-
precedented prison commitment
rates. They perceive their com-
munities, she says, to be in the
most precarious position they
have been in for 20 years. And
they see themselves as holding
the survi'vial of those com-
munities in their hands. It is a
time when black women want
and need to create families and
family bonds.
For Annette Smith, 20, a black
single mother who lives on
Chicago's west side, the idea of
having babies to compensate for
all the young blacks who, meet
violent deaths "makes a lot of
See ABORTION, Page 6
Betty Baye is a New York
journalist who has contributed
to Essence and a wide range of
black community journals.
Sandy Close is editor of the
Pacific News Service, for
which this article was written.

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